When you’re in hardcore job-search mode, things become automatic, and the second you spot a great job, you often fire off your resume and cover letter and throw your name into the mix. It’s understandable, but it’s not good enough.
In a Daily Muse post reposted on USA Today’s College site, writer Kat Moon highlights “5 Things That Are Hurting Your Job Application.” According to Moon, “one little blunder can turn a recruiter off,” so following advice like hers and switching off “auto-pilot” has the potential to be extremely valuable.
Moon’s first resume no-no: “irrelevant work experience.” You want your resume to highlight the experience that’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for. If it’s a customer sales position, make sure customer service is the focus. That might require some shifting (and even removal) of bullet points, but it’s worth it the editing work. Don’t have experience in the field? There are ways around that. Moon recommends starting with her fellow Muse writer Lily Zhang’s piece “What to Put on Your Resume When You Have No Relevant Work Experience.”
The next thing that could hurt your chances, Moon says, is controversial personal info. Your resume is no place to talk about political beliefs, religious affiliations, or anything of the sort. While laws prevent employers from taking these things into account when making hiring decisions, the fact is that not all companies obey the law. Play it safe and leave the personal stuff out.
Another thing you can leave out: your street address. This is especially good advice if you’re applying for a gig in another city and don’t want to be seen as a non-local. It might also come in handy if you are local but live far away from the job, and the prospect of a long commute — a known reason people quit jobs — has the potential to mark you foul in the eyes of hiring managers. Include an email address and a LinkedIn URL, but consider leaving the street address off.
Fourth, Moon cautions against including awards from way back in the day. No one cares that you were the top math student at your high school, and even if you accomplished amazing things in your youth, fight the urge to include them. You’ll risk looking like you haven’t done anything worthwhile since.
Finally, Moon suggests you can your resume and cover letter for pointless filler lines like “Please see my enclosed resume” or “Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.” These throwaway phrases should be thrown away. Space is short, and so are people’s attention spans. Stick to the message: why you’re right for the job. Everything else is extraneous.